Schrödinger’s Movie

April 24, 2008

Let’s play a game to demonstrate that the future of movies is dead.

First, pick you favourite movie.

I’ll wait… I know it’s a tricky question

OK, Good choice.

Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.

Ok, What’s you second favourite Movie?

Ah! Crafty one.

Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.

Right, third (and final) favourite movie choice.

Heh, ok.. I see what you did there.

Ok, you know the score, Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.

You now have three movie files on your laptop, all 5Gb in size.

We wont mention this to the copyright authorities. It’s between you and me.

The thing is, you only need the one file for all three movies. The data for each movie has been conformed to the same size, it’s the sequence of the data that enables the viewing of the movie – through the player that understands the codec.

You see, any movie that has ever been made also exists within the single 5Gb file.

Still with me?

The data file is just noise, it’s how you tune out the movie you want is the trick.

But the fact that every movie that has ever been made is held within that data file also means that every film that will ever be made is within that file.

[Pause for thought - I know you're thinking at this point.]

Think of it like radio, you have to tune to the right sequence of the data to get the movie you want or the movie you can imagine you would like to see.

Now, for the technical reader, I know you’re snarling at this – yes – it’s a question of retrieval and we don’t have the technology nor the methodology to tackle this puzzle.

But it does indicate a finite number of movies that can be made. It’s a huge number – but it’s finite.

Look at it from an single image perspective.

If you have a jpg file, 800pixels x 600pixels, the limitation of the dimensions, that is, the number of pixels multiplied by the colour depth is the limitation of the format of the image.

As screen/image performance ‘increases’, the colour depth improves and thus more variation can occur, but there is a limit somewhere. 32bit colour depth is probably what you have your monitor set to. Hi Def Tv blows this away, but the visual plane of us creatures is limited to a spectrum. We can only see so deep.

But back to the movie puzzle.

Schrödinger set a thought puzzle back in 1935,

He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, where the cat’s life or death was dependent on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead until the box is opened.

You can read the whole cat debacle on Wikipedia.

If you have a 5Gb of data, the movie you want is in there if you can perceive it.

Now, there’s an alternative view of this puzzle from proposed in 1987 by Hans Moravec and in 1988 by Bruno Marchal. Their experiment essentially involves looking at the Schrödinger’s cat experiment from the point of view of the cat. It’s called the Quantum Suicide.

Which makes me think what will power does a movie that has never been made have, to fight it’s way out of the 5Gb of noise, sitting on your desktop?

What ‘will power’ do characters and scenes of movies that, don’t exist, have?

This question shows how our minds project emotive responses towards fictions, how we project our own sensibilities onto formats of existence. Narratives act as vehicles for our own perceptions, but do they have a magnetism to the needs of conversation between ourselves?

It makes no sense to reference movies that don’t exist because they are not a shared point of understanding – we tend to use the past as a reference, not the future. But as the sum total of all possibilities of movies can be formulated if we understand how language informs communication, then reference points remove any notion of authored time – that is, what will be and what has has no hierarchy – that is, the past is no more informative than the future.

But I digress.

If every movie can exist within 1 file, have a look at Amazon, Blockbusters, netflix and youtube. That’s a lot of duplication, a lot of technology used to propel unit sales where instead we should be looking at the solution of movie automata – growing movies – so that we are freed up, to move on to something else.

If you’re in marketing, especially planning, and tuned into the digital storytelling scene (ahem), you’ll know about Faris’s Transmedia Planning essay. You’ll probably know that it comes from Henry Jenkins notions of Convergence Culture, and you might know that he took it from Nicholas Negroponte, Director of MIT, book called Being Digital, where he talks about Bit Streaming. Bitstreaming is where the point of production which becomes the point of consumption (basically – think about Lifestreaming, User Generated Content and Conversation On-line). Your doing is the act of consumption. To use is to learn.

BitSteaming is not Transmedia, something has got lost along the way here. We have to stop thinking in terms of making media; production and distributions are side effects of design, they are not a means to an end.

Design, as an act, infers solution. Design is much better at finding problems than having to abuse creativity to produced polished productions for consumption.

Brilliant things are the messes we are fixated upon. Headlines in the press attract attention, not for the morbid cultural events but for the persuit of reason. A mess is a loose space that we can occupy mentally. There is peace in the eye of the storm. Time stands still in this space.

There has been so much written about this area within marketing, and I think Marcus bagged the best review so far, but it all amounts to avoiding the subject that authorship does not matter. It matters not for an audience nor for the producer, authorship is a channel for communication. Communication, does not need a singular writer to produce media. Films may have a director, but there is almost a countless cast of assistants required to design, produce and distribute.

There’s is also the notion of copyright and licence. That was demonstrated in Where are the Joneses?

You may want to look at Roland Barthes ‘Death of an Author’ or Walter Benjamin’s ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.’ Both have indicated the moral and virtues decline in the notions of authorship. It can be argued that authorship maintains our identity as humans. Crosbie and Doc Searles may debate that synthesis of human authorship is almost upon us. Though Andrea may not agree.

Digtal methodologies, as we have seen within all forms of publishing, does not honour the author as a predicate for future productions. From Markov chains to Bayesian search theory, pattern matching of semantics is beginining to be taken seriously as the direction of technology which will author our future. BookLamp is doing something interesting in this area (Thanks to Ben for the link). We will be experiencing the automaton of narrative far beyond the postmodernism of Baudrillard’s Simulations and Simulacra as seen in those Matrix Movies.

This is why Hollywood is dead wood, tinsletown will burn to the ground.

We’ll be left with an ever present of change, a shifting sifting of values that look more like noise than logic.

The Semantic hope of web3.0, where stuff talks to each other, means that we are the participating audience of a story that we all know even though it has not been written, and constantly trying to escape by retuning the aesthetics back to what makes us feel comfortable. It’s going to harder to be feel secure in the thought that you have a fate, destiny or an objective future when the principles of subjectivity are iterations of a systematic upgrade of general consensus – you belong to your peer’s perceptions.

Narrative may well collapse into pace determined by a rhythm of participation. The story and melody could be perceptive instead of prescriptive.

From storytelling to synthesis, we see performance and identity central to the act of engagement. The human centrality is the primary node within a creation plane, which is pure transaction – an act. It’s how you map the individual the execution of transaction that will make the semantic web, not the alignment of meanings within language. An act is a meaning – a word is a symbol. Signs are conduits between the two.

Life will become a pure dress rehersal because the movie will never be made. Maybe this is the constant betaness. Maybe this is how we should never to be afraid of making mistakes. This sense of ‘incomplete’ or ‘disconectivity’ makes us relate more to each other.

Our patience for this consistant change will be subject to invariants. Just as the notion of interestingness is based upon anomalies; configurations, standards and useful protocols that provide moments of clarity, will become the Greek island oasis that defines peace – and maybe peace of mind. While Advertising hates this, marketing loves this. Disruptions in perception are only useful when you want someone to believe that they are in control – isn’t that so tiger?

But I digress, again.

I’ve no idea on how to retrieve the finite collection of movies within the 5Gb of data, but I’ve started using Twine to collate the ideas and references that made me thinking of this problem called Schrödinger’s Movie . If you’re using Twine, do pop by and have a look, help out, or comment.

Either way – the song remains the same. Open up.

Update [27-04-08] There is now a really interesting thread on Yahoo!Groups about this post.

Open up
Now open up
You lied
You faked
You cheated
You changed the stakes
Magnet toss that pie in the sky
Unrehearsed let the bubbles burst
All in all a three-ring circus
Of unity with parody tragedy or comedy
Probably publicity

Open up
Make room for me
Now open up
Make room for me

Lose myself inside your schemes
Go for the money, honey
Not the screen
Be a movie star Blah, blah, blah
Go the whole hog
Be bigger than God

Burn, Hollywood, burn
Taking down Tinsel Town
Burn Hollywood, burn
Burn down into the ground
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Burn, Hollywood, burn

Take down Tinsel Town
Burn down to the ground
Down into the ground
Burn

P.s. Ask me sometime how I know Peter Andre is responsible for LeftField’s first 2 albums.

aoc2.gif

Second albums are always the hardest, so I was thrilled to be called into help Gavin and Drew make the Age of Conversation sequel even better. I’ll be nestled in amongst 275 other meddlers of marketing, adding a little salt with an article on how to give away your intellectual property and profit/win an audience/make better products/sleep well at night.

The book will be themed ‘Why don’t they get it?’ – alluding to clients who either refuse to accept that the audiences are in control of commercial communications (in design, distribution and production) or who believe that all this web2.0 malarkey will just go away some day…

So in true collaboration style, Gavin and Drew handed out 7 topics for us to pick from and write under.

They are : -

  • Conversation to Action
  • Manifesto
  • My Marketing Tragedy
  • Business Models
  • Keeping Secrets
  • Life in the Conversation Lane
  • A New Brand of Creative

You can see who’s writing about which topic here.

I’ll be sketching out my article on my wiki, here.

To be honest, I haven’t a foggest who most of my fellow writers/bloggers/evangelists are, so I’m going to have spend some time going through this lot :-

Adam Crowe
Adrian Ho
Aki Spicer
Alex Henault
Amy Jussel
Andrew Odom
Andy Nulman
Andy Sernovitz
Andy Whitlock
Angela Maiers
Ann Handley
Anna Farmery
Armando Alves
Arun Rajagopal
Asi Sharabi
Becky Carroll
Becky McCray
Bernie Scheffler
Bill Gammell
Bob Carlton
Bob LeDrew
Brad Shorr
Bradley Spitzer
Brandon Murphy
Branislav Peric
Brent Dixon
Brett Macfarlane
Brian Reich
C.C. Chapman
Cam Beck
Casper Willer
Cathleen Rittereiser
Cathryn Hrudicka
Cedric Giorgi
Charles Sipe
Chris Kieff
Chris Cree
Chris Wilson
Christina Kerley
C.B. Whittemore
Clay Parker Jones
Chris Brown
Colin McKay
Connie Bensen
Connie Reece
Cord Silverstein
Corentin Monot
Craig Wilson
Daniel Honigman
Dan Goldstein
Dan Schawbel
Dana VanDen Heuvel
Dan Sitter
Daria Radota Rasmussen
Darren Herman
Darryl Patterson
Dave Davison
Dave Origano
David Armano
David Bausola
David Berkowitz
David Brazeal
David Koopmans
David Meerman Scott
David Petherick
David Reich
David Weinfeld
David Zinger
Deanna Gernert
Deborah Brown
Dennis Price
Derrick Kwa
Dino Demopoulos
Doug Haslam
Doug Meacham
Doug Mitchell
Douglas Hanna
Douglas Karr
Drew McLellan
Duane Brown
Dustin Jacobsen
Dylan Viner
Ed Brenegar
Ed Cotton
Efrain Mendicuti
Ellen Weber
Emily Reed
Eric Peterson
Eric Nehrlich
Ernie Mosteller
Faris Yakob
Fernanda Romano
Francis Anderson
G. Kofi Annan
Gareth Kay
Gary Cohen
Gaurav Mishra
Gavin Heaton
Geert Desager
George Jenkins
G.L. Hoffman
Gianandrea Facchini
Gordon Whitehead
Graham Hill
Greg Verdino
Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming
Hillel Cooperman
Hugh Weber
J. Erik Potter
J.C. Hutchins
James Gordon-Macintosh
Jamey Shiels
Jasmin Tragas
Jason Oke
Jay Ehret
Jeanne Dininni
Jeff De Cagna
Jeff Gwynne
Jeff Noble
Jeff Wallace
Jennifer Warwick
Jenny Meade
Jeremy Fuksa
Jeremy Heilpern
Jeremy Middleton
Jeroen Verkroost
Jessica Hagy
Joanna Young
Joe Pulizzi
Joe Talbott
John Herrington
John Jantsch
John Moore
John Rosen
John Todor
Jon Burg
Jon Swanson
Jonathan Trenn
Jordan Behan
Julie Fleischer
Justin Flowers
Justin Foster
Karl Turley
Kate Trgovac
Katie Chatfield
Katie Konrath
Kenny Lauer
Keri Willenborg
Kevin Jessop
Kris Hoet
Krishna De
Kristin Gorski
Laura Fitton
Laurence Helene Borei
Lewis Green
Lois Kelly
Lori Magno
Louise Barnes-Johnston
Louise Mangan
Louise Manning
Luc Debaisieux
Marcus Brown
Mario Vellandi
Mark Blair
Mark Earls
Mark Goren
Mark Hancock
Mark Lewis
Mark McGuinness
Mark McSpadden
Matt Dickman
Matt J. McDonald
Matt Moore
Michael Hawkins
Michael Karnjanaprakorn
Michelle Lamar
Mike Arauz
Mike McAllen
Mike Sansone
Mitch Joel
Monica Wright
Nathan Gilliatt
Nathan Snell
Neil Perkin
Nettie Hartsock
Nick Rice
Oleksandr Skorokhod
Ozgur Alaz
Paul Chaney
Paul Hebert
Paul Isakson
Paul Marobella
Paul McEnany
Paul Tedesco
Paul Williams
Pet Campbell
Pete Deutschman
Peter Corbett
Phil Gerbyshak
Phil Lewis
Phil Soden
Piet Wulleman
Rachel Steiner
Sreeraj Menon
Reginald Adkins
Richard Huntington
Rishi Desai
R.J. Northam
Rob Mortimer
Robert Hruzek
Roberta Rosenberg
Robyn McMaster
Roger von Oech
Rohit Bhargava
Ron Shevlin
Ryan Barrett
Ryan Karpeles
Ryan Rasmussen
Sam Huleatt
Sandy Renshaw
Scott Goodson
Scott Monty
Scott Townsend
Scott White
Sean Howard
Sean Scott
Seni Thomas
Seth Gaffney
Shama Hyder
Sheila Scarborough
Sheryl Steadman
Simon Payn
Sonia Simone
Spike Jones
Stanley Johnson
Stephen Collins
Stephen Cribbett
Stephen Landau
Stephen Smith
Steve Bannister
Steve Hardy
Steve Portigal
Steve Roesler
Steven Verbruggen
Steve Woodruff
Sue Edworthy
Susan Bird
Susan Gunelius
Susan Heywood
Tammy Lenski
Terrell Meek
Thomas Clifford
Thomas Knoll
Tiffany Kenyon
Tim Brunelle
Tim Buesing
Tim Connor
Tim Jackson
Tim Longhurst
Tim Mannveille
Tim Tyler
Timothy Johnson
Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Toby Bloomberg
Todd Andrlik
Troy Rutter
Troy Worman
Uwe Hook
Valeria Maltoni
Vandana Ahuja
Vanessa DiMauro
Veronique Rabuteau
Wayne Buckhanan
William Azaroff
Yves Van Landeghem

And if you haven’t picked yourself up a copy of the original book, there’s a ‘crowdsource-mega-bum-rush’ on the 29th March – details here. Go on – join the conversation…

The Failure of Space

January 13, 2008

48.jpg

Objects pay a central role in language which have become the black hole of the imagination.

Object absorb methods of interactivity, they hold the relationship between verb and noun.

Objects retain activity because of a latent belief that to be human is to engage with existence as a container.

1944_n.jpg

It’s the belief that ourselves, as communicators occupy a particular space. In consideration, what is it that we think we own through ‘being’ ? Whether it’s My Space or My Face, there is a problem in wanting personal identification being incorruptible because property defines a relationship between the ‘individual’ and an ‘activity’ and thus, “I think therefore I am” reduces language to a proposition that negates space, rendering it it as a void not as energy.

Ownership, as currency, renders the individual as a shibboleth, not as a conduit. Ownership values you, not the otherway around.

Acting is a way to shift the individual from person to persona; the surface as text enables a metamorphosis to occur but yet legibility restricts affordances of the performance. By designing a character, you are stripping away values that you do not want to transfer.

Narratives, on the whole, are object centric. Stories, on the whole, are character or location centric, even if the role of the tale is morale of antidote. This is how we deal with space; we erase relationships between objects in order to expose relationships between objects that we deem valuable. The legibility of the value enhanced objects are defined using logic, itself a system based upon declaration.

And it’s this declaration that needs to be replaced with recursive activities. To recall a story is simply a validation of the initial story’s object values. The Chinese Whisper recursive activity opens the affordance for personal valuations, in turn, creating a new value chain debased from an individual’s possession model.

Use Values are the currency that currency values, commercial restrictions on transference increase friction and erodes affordances. Use value devalues Image Values. Knowledge transfer is part of the process, but unless you can reuse the knowledge in anyway you wish, the currency of knowledge degrades.

Now, exploitation of knowledge requires attribution, itself is a shibboleth token that is derived from an individual (corporate entity or individual). Attribution, being the lowest level of rights (as expressed through the Creative Commons licence scheme), is still a barrier for reuse. It maintains the network of information transference, but retains a channel for first object values to influence the acceptance of the shibboleth model.

How can transference be utilised without incarceration of influences when transference is a space based activity?

Network constructs exist within time, not space. Transference exists within space not time.

Is a knowledge object a particle or a wave?

Therefore we have a problem identifying value when networks and manufacturing argue the ownership of the concept of initial value. Language has no root for originality – it’s primary role is transference through duplication and distortion. Meaning’s needs are erosion and decay.

‘Constructing a sentance’ is to destroy other values from perception.

‘Manufacturing’, as a concept, can not contain ‘Networks’ and vice versa. What permits the entanglement is Communication.

(Note the sweet irony of the licence at the end of this video.)

If the Uncertainity Principle is correct, all values are approximations, and therefore there is nothing that can be awarded a value; at best objects have properties that fluctuate with values – a range of values.

(Above: “Portraits of My Father’s Imagination” by Jennifer Cohen.)

A construct of value ranges are the ingredients; the intersection of the range of values can equate to a value. When constructed in this way, the approximation delivers precision that can be tracked but never predicted. Choosing which intersection of values (ingredients) is a decision method based upon prior knowledge, in essense, you make myths through reuse of retained values.

If this is so, an individuals choice is a myth; being able to predict within a value range deludes any sense of freedom – an this is the fear of freedom.

(Above: Victor Burgin Office at Night, 1986 (one of seven sections))

Robert Morris had said that he wanted his sculptures to be no more or less important than any other of the ‘terms’ in the room in which they were situated. But I had asked him the question: if his sculpture was to be considered no more worthy of attention than the doors, the floor, the windows, and so on… then why not dispense with the art object altogether? Judd had said that a form that was neither geometric nor organic would be a great discovery. It seemed to me that such a form did not exist in the material world but could only be found in the mental realm. By the time I left Yale I was trying to find a way of dispensing with the material object, a way of leaving the room empty.

The above quote is taken from Victor Burgin’s presentation titled ‘The Separateness of Things’, which you can read here.

The Failure of Space is it’s existence as physical. The attempts of establishing neutrality within a language construct is something Wikipedia has gone to great lengths to achieve. It is the greatest phenomenon – above the sheer scale of the production – and is reflected in the concept of Net Neutrality.

Pure Construction, as favoured by the early conceptualist and minimalists (such as Robert Morris) claims a use of space beyond the appreciation of freedoms.

Above: Robert Rauschenberg
Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953)

Rauschenberg’s moves in white are part of the grand gesture that his early work strove for and often achieved. His colleague John Cage recognised this when he wrote: “The white paintings were airports for the lights, shadows and particles.” Rauschenberg was able to make nothing the subject of a painting in a way that Cage would, after him, make nothing the subject of a piece of music. Then everything could enter in. “Having made the empty canvases (a canvas is never empty), Rauschenberg became the giver of gifts. “The timing of these acts was crucial; it was a different response to the Second World War and the atom bomb. Unlike the existentialism of Giacometti, which depicted man alone in the universe, Rauschenberg’s emptiness has a positive tonality, and although he in part rejected the serious themes of his Abstract Expressionist predecessors, his White Paintings have nothing of the humour of the Surrealists.

Weiner’s schema tackles the production and distribution of art through the direct conflict between object and language, and remains today the keystone to artists decoding the construct of space.

1. The artist may construct the piece
2.The piece may be fabricated
3. The piece need not be built.
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the the occasion of the receivership.

Lawrence Weiner – As Long As It Lasts, 1994
Carving in Renaissance Society wall

Between language and object, the range of values assimilate situations of debate. A debate as a construct finds itself smothered by language unless you can keep the space from collapsing through definition.

Above: Haim Steinbach – supremely black, 1985

Steinbach, a contemporary of Koons, produces a shelving modality to enable presentations of value ranges. The exhibit is itself an execution of the question behind design, production and distribution of the ‘object’. The work is complete with installation instructions and is shipped from exhibition to exhibition. Position within the space is the arbitrary decision of the curator. The artist’s role is to negate the closure of space through neutral syntax – a language that the viewer can neither state as true or false, a language that negates and confirms the value range, a language that is neither useful or useless. Here, aesthetics deliver the failure of space. It is not the connectivity between objects but the juxtaposition of values within values recursively that denote a space that become accessible only through negating a language construct.

Within such an infinate duration of causality, space collapses. Time becomes a multi-dimensional construct connected through a range of values that assert their relationship through the viewer. The viewers act of possession in this state is of value to no one else as navigation of recursive space alludes to no meaning, no value, no use. Alone with a infinite array of value ranges, the viewer controls the matter of space through an erosion of time. The fear of freedom becomes the liberation of value. Space fails us when it fails to negate time – it leaves us a mere container instead of a part of it’s whole.

With time and space existing as linguistic containers, the role of the viewer is to collapse the meaning of either states, thus transferring a network of values from one to another. This sifting enables a non linguistic ontology freeing the affordances of both containers. The tools for such activities reside in the intersect of value ranges, and it would seem that emotive approaches that avoid the individuals verb-noun exchange are extremely effective in producing affective recursive communications.

If communication is to effectively design the prototypes of manufacturing and protocols of networks, then we may find that the Theory of Everything alluding to the simplistic notion that language is preventive, non enabling and that objects and their methods assert symmetrical values – an ordered beauty that prevents the human release of reasoning into lone navigation.

Perception, the foundation to navigation, is a surface reliant ontology. We can only ever see surface – all meaning is generated based upon the viewers value ranges.

Non-orientable objects, such as the Klein bottle (above) and the Mobius strip exist within their own surface, that is, they are one continuous surface. The Klein bottle model exists in the 3rd dimension, whereas the Mobius strip is in within the 2nd dimension. Being singular, the Klein bottle’s affordance is that is you pour into the bottle, the bottle will instantly pour out from the same point.

The significance of the singular surface, non-orientable object, is that space can be defined, modelled and handled as matter, not as a representation of matter. The recently, fought over, affirmation Poincaré conjecture, allows us to believe that surface is a finite space, and thus utterly orientable. The domain of space can be cut using the Ricci Flow with Surgery method and with finite time, it is possible to show that space remains a singularity, if if the Ricci Flow has to be applied to singularities that form from the cutting.

In essence, the limitations of space-time confer that existence within language is restricted to the modeling of matter. Language can not explain anything OUTSIDE the surface of matter, thus we can not use language to explore dimensions that are devoid of space-time, but the existence of an exterior of space-time can be confirmed through seeing the limitations of activity-place.

Being devoid of space-time, creation should be able to construct fiction that becomes true, as the assertion can be percevied after the fact due to surface being the mailable construct unaffected by space-time; in space-time, fiction comes after prior knowledge because space-time controls the object.

As digital communications aspires towards production at the point of consumption (Transmedia, UGC, bitstreaming and crowdsourcing), we are slowly adopting an existence without space-time yet trying to apply space-time modalities of fiction.

You may ask why you would want to know the film before you watch it, or listen to a gag if you knew the punchline – this would be misunderstanding the role of non-oriented objects within a non-space, non-time existence.

The role of communications within the surface plane of non-space-time is to experience your own construct not one constructed for you. We may have a Death of an Author paradox here, if we are already have removed the author of the text and replaced it with the reader. The point is, authorship should come after the collective experience of existence, not a singular denotation of space-time. What should be of interest within this plane is the ability to formalise reality upon the construct of the imagination, collectively and individually.

The networks that people build today, may these be technological or social, are becoming the surface plane of a reality construct that create fictions which in turn create opinions within the minds of the participants. Fears of assimilation and identity are fluid, that is, epidemic in the communities that produce the network. I believe this is the transitional phase between space-time and a singularity that restates the relationship between communication and manufacturing. Ideas, concepts and thoughts will materialise through a network effect, but the consequences will be that little choice will be maintained over what is made. Manufacturing will become enslaved to the Network; Communication will be caught in between the two.

Freedom will still remain the illusion between a physicality and the organisation of that reality, unless language escapes the object ontology. Scripts, routines and procedures maintain a use value that people define as methods; again, a value construct between noun and verb needs to be dissolved for the benefits of experience to liberate us from expectations.

twitter-hashclouds.jpg

You may have noticed Hash Tags appear on Twitter recently, promoted by Chris from Citizen Agency. You need to read this post and this one too, to follow this idea. Oh, and have a look at the Twitter Wiki HashTag page for a comprehensive oveview.

HashTags are a way to tag Tweets so that Followers can keep track of a story/theme/place/activity. Like a Channel or a Group.

I think they are missing the affordance values of Twitter. (OoOooOooooh, can I really say Twitter should NOT be used for something?)

HashTags are an inline denotation of meaning within the Tweet; I think this is self referential and perhaps there is a better way of using the system for tracking activities that followers want to relate to.

As with Social Objects, a story/theme/place/activity can be defined as a Class – an object that contains actions, or Methods. By trying to turn a single Tweet into an object, defies the value in using Tweets as Methods – Considering Twitters call to action “What are you doing?” the 140char space is perfect for Methods, not Objects.

Now, there are various Twitter aggregators around – HashTag.org being the most relevent to this situation. Snitter (which I use and love) also allows HashTag aggregation. This is fine, I can gather all the the relevant posts according to a HashTag instantly.

But, here’s the rub, Twitter’s within the range of a HashTag subject bring value and are excluded from the aggregation. Twitter Vision style aggregation can help see within a geographical aggregation, but for broader value aggregation, and by the way that language works, there is not an ontology that can scale to capture a deep rich picture of the subject.

Unless we use Twitter as a Command Line to activate 3rd party services to produce a Media Cloud. A Media cloud is a semantically collected set of web services based around a story/theme/place/activity. Like Where are the Joneses?

Ordinarily, a user has to go to all these web services, set up an account and then link them all together. I propose this can all be done via Twitter through a recognisable command, which I’m calling a Twoot (ref: W00t). Here’s a rough UML Activity Diagram to explain how this could work.

Click to see readable version

Now, there’s an upcoming suite of API enabling concepts rising up that can really pull this together. OAUTH, Open ID and Microformats (Now on Twitter)are all useful for transferring, connecting and evolving the Media Cloud, not to mention the blogosphere grokking via Technorati, Friendfeed and of course Google and it’s merry band of services. AMPL is really close to this too.

Social Nets are also handy, why cant FaceBook applications be libraries ready for deployment upon a Twitter Command (a Twoot), thus attaching the HashCloud to the daily FB addictions. OpenSocial - very handy for attaching the broad range of webservices. I think Ning could be a major service in this operation. Flickr would be essential.

Depending on the string sent from Twitter, the array of services can be controlled – look at the range of webservices as an à la carte menu. A set of parameters could be sent requesting which services, or providers, require activation.

Now all this could be the start of spam hell, what would be stopping anyone setting up Media Clouds through a HashCloud command? Equally, think of the number of Brands establishing Media Clouds for any eventuality. Splogs are bad enough but Google does a tidy job of keeping them out of searches.

But an active MediaCloud would be judged by the vortex it would create around the story/theme/place/activity. The MediaCloud would transform to a MediaVortex if there was genuine activity, SpamClouds would just float away, dissolve, vanish. A MediaVortex would root itself at the focus of attention.

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Brand naming was legally born out of removing the proprietors name from the trading name, enabling franchising. Because of this, creativity took the ability to be fictitious, enabling narratives to enter the sales pitch. Using a logo as the emblem of the narrative, we seen the legal entity move from icon to verb. Marketeers Just Did It, so you can Just Do It – whatever they wanted you to desire.

Imagine that. One single bit of business legality gives birth to what we know as Marketing.

The problem is, no one really believes the stories marketing peddles, especially when the narratives are masking the reality of the Business Trading As. Naked Conversations maybe trying to resolve the fact that All Marketeers are Liars, but this amounts to tinkering with the logo, the identity by enhancing the ‘gestures’ of the companies operations. Brand as a Narrative prevents the Brand existing as Embodiment. Brands need to live within the architecture of life, not on the perception plane. Trying to get a purchasing audience to care about a Brand is costly compared to using your Brands affordances to improve the infrastructure of life. In this case giving is cheaper than advertising.

Branded Utilities, Branded Content and Brand Experiences are all ways of reshuffling the first order objects of the audiences relationship to a commercial service, but frankly, it doesn’t matter which part of the pizza you eat first, you’re participating in a fiction that delivers the need you wanted in the first place, but you have to go through the speed dating of a brand to get the money shot.

This maybe partially necessary, not for selling you the service/goods/lifestyle in the first place, but actually easing the guilt of the transaction. Consumerism has an after taste, and like a bottle of booze, it’s an acquired taste which comes through education. And guess who’s teaching you about after taste. Consumerism is not consumption in the personal sense – it’s a cultural activity. We share consumerism, we never personally experience it.

One of my persistent thoughts is how to get clients, brands, company operations into the infrastructure of life – – fundamentally, getting under the skin, or label, of society and ensuring the brand is doing something useful.

We’ve been repetitively told, we first we have to pass through Permission Marketing to get an audience to accept the narrative of a brand. It’s no more than the first question you ask a potential customer on the shop floor: “How can I help you?”. So much for big insights, Seth.
Take a look at this.

Tide, A P&G brand, rolled in to New Orleans, with the help of The Gigunda Group, during the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster with a truck stacked with washing machines capable of doing 300 loads of washing a day. Food, water, security and other key essentials where being laughably delivered by the US official task forces. What people needed, to get them back on their feet so that they could move forward with rebuilding their day, not their city, was clean clothes – an incredibly soft touch to a horrific disaster, but one that got people motivated. Need alone does not inspire people – desire/inspiration/care activates the cognitive value of meaning in people.

Once rationality is operating, construction ensues.

Once New Orleans stabilised, to the point of mild sanity (and sanitation) P&G pulled back the trucks but did drop in other initiatives – such as concert as a fund raiser and handyman around New Orleans – with R&B star and product placement God send, John Legend.

But I think P&G missed a trick here or it shows that marketing teams really don’t have any real business power inside the corporation – nor does Corporate Social Responsibility.

Tide’s, Clean Start, tactical Branded Experience may have put the heart back into people – but in times of catastrophe – natural disasters and war – aka Acts of God – it’s a sweet spot for a brand to step in a GIVE support. Now, most Acts of God, are the moment the military and corporations rub their hands and expect a spurge in profits – real needs equals real profits. This is essentially tactical thinking.

What is up for grabs is to get into the new infrastructure before it’s gets rebuilt under Government controls.

Now, most corporations will go after the bid for Government contracts – the legal framework to make dollar from crisis.

What if the corporation showed that it wasn’t making money from the short term tactical play upon the catastrophe?

BlackWater is a government commissioned mercenary enterprise. They tend to acquire No Bid Contracts, that is, they are GIVEN the contracts to do ‘stealth’ operations. Like the A-Team, without the humour, and people die. Quite a lot of them, actually.

Government contracts for Iraq are the lucrative. Massive risk, but lucrative. And owned by the participating governments, owned in the sense that Taxes are set.

Now, before we panic and thinking, heck no, we don’t want Coke and Mcdonalds being in the infrastructure of a societal rebuild, think what you the consumer are paying in taxes to the government for BlackWaters ‘unregulated’ services.

Consumer infrastructure services tend, on the whole, not to have a mandate, nor licence, to kill people. It is in their interest to make their lives more profitable, so that they can acquire more products and services.

ENRON, went for Infrastructure, just as Google is now. It’s the Accountability of the Transactions that will make the dfference if Brands engage with building cultural infrastructure.

Think about the long term play on this. It’s not about Brands ensuring their product is on display in the right stores, it’s not about the talkability of the Brands Ideals, it’s not about LoveMarks – these are all lowering purchase considerations.

Brands within the infrastructure of the cultural mechanism, are the verbs of life, they are not about trying to facilitate the consumers interests – it’s deeper, more transparent, more beneficial – it’s about the organisation working towards a common goal – and that is – mutuality.

A brand that is part of the daily exchange mechanism of language – not a parody of Just Doin’ It – but actually generating value in an individuals actions, is part of the fabric of reasoning, not a point of difference.

If Brands think that their role is to rise above ‘acceptability’, then they are going the wrong direction. Brands, if they want to be the life of the consumer, must be the reasoning of the consumer.

The way in, as above, is to GIVE operational support to the community; mesh your CSR into the habits of the communities – not fundraisers, not sponsorship nor charity, but become of institutional use. If your organisation is malfunctioning – “Nobody talks to anyone” mentality, then you’ll fail instantly. But maybe, if you start to get your organisations logistics closer to the communities, this could start internal/external conversations. Keep it at a personal level. “Brand talks to Man on the Street” is nonsense. “Man who works for Big Corporation talks to Man on Street” is good.

But think also about how this has to work on the web. Brands that help build the infrastructure of Communications, Manufacturing and Networks remain in the daily existence of the audience without the hoopla of permission marketing. Look how Web2.0 services that do small simple things reside in the daily activities of communication. Look at the first round VC money – it’s within any Global Corporations budget to invest, create and experiment within. You have to think functions, not applications. That’s what Google’s 20% rule is all about.

But before we all start thinking this is Corporate Social Responsibility extremity, focus the attention towards the largest global religion - Finance – because beliefs, although mailable, are the Social Object’s force in cultural frailness. And Frail Nets are Good. It is the Methods within the Financial-Social Object that require crafting.

If it Doesn’t Kill Ya

January 5, 2008

Adbusters have always had this problem. Brands love criticism – all publicity is good publicity – and parody is the highest form of flattery.

Artist, Steve Lambert, teamed up with EyeBeam in NYC, to hijack and close all 85 of the Manhatten McDonalds restaurants – See above. There’s a video of the performance below.

The project ‘Ronald’s Crisis’ is lovely example on how to hack social concerns, but the target needs to be understood. Brands are not people – people have feelings.

Steve has a great ‘artists’ statement on his website:-

For me, art is a bridge that connects uncommon, idealistic, or even radical ideas with everyday life. I carefully craft various conditions where I can discuss these ideas with people and have a mutually meaningful exchange. Often this means working collaboratively with the audience, bringing them into the process or even having them physically complete the work.

Spoken like a true marketing man.

The thing is that McDonalds Restaurants are franchises – someone has to pay to run a McDonalds store. If you want to influence the Brand, appeal to the guy who is trying to make a living from being part of a chain. Attacking a franchise means that some guy/gal is having his income damaged – and that get’s personal – really personal – we all have bills.

This guy/gal is also in no position to change the menu, they have less influence than the customers. If anything the store owner is going tobe more resilient to negative feedback, it’ll make him/her stronger – more wary, more defensive.

Sarah Nelson Wright has done a smart write up here.

Because the project is in the street, in the environment we live in, and it transforms that environment, it impacts us differently than, say, reading an article that tells me McDonald’s is bad (which, according to Steve, we all already know). It intervenes at the moment of the behavior, collapsing the distance between our theoretical lives and the lives we actually live. Because the story is so dynamic and unusual, it lingers in our thoughts: it visits me as I shop at another corporate outlet; I tell the story to people I like to amuse. Interestingly, Steve said that his biggest audience is not the people in the street; it’s the people who read about the event on the internet.

I think this is really interesting – how you can use point-of-sale as experiencial that is worth sharing through correspondance, blogs, etc. The media from the performance is the catalyst for awareness; repackage the age old message (junk food is bad for your daily diet) with a thread of the brand’s DNA and see what can be spawned. If you’re going to hack a brand, then you need to create siblings that will grow. Don’t be the Dr. Frankenstein, be Chance the Gardener.

But the efforts of the project could have been better used if the activist participants consider sending the franachise owners a list of alternative, more profitable, careers. Do we expect McDonalds to revise their entire supply chain and thus business and ultimately Brand, to deliver something else? It’s easier to start a new enterprise rather than rework the values of an existing chain business.

At least, give advice to the staff that run the counters and fryers. If McDondalds cant staff the restaurant because there are better things to do, then they cant operate the store…

Or make the last day of the month “McDonalds Day”; give everyone the focus to go to MacDonald’s on a specific day of the month, leaving them to choose something else for the other 30 days of the month. Super Sizing the issue doesn’t give people the mental space to block out the problem, instead, it raises awareness that ‘treat-yourself food’ is available all the time. Think about how this would effect the price and supply chain of a fast-food franchise business..

To hack Friedrich Nietzsche warning,

Battle not with clown,
lest ye become a clown,
and if you gaze into the makeup,
the makeup gazes into you.

A Cup of Bricks

January 4, 2008

If you haven’t watch ‘2 girls and a cup’, then don’t.

If you have, you know you wish you hadn’t.

There’s a whole series of video responses to that video and they show something really good. Media lubricates conversation; it produces a shared moment. We love to spectate another persons response to the unpalatable because a truth reveals itself in the moment of realisation. And these are rare moments.

We used have the water cooler moment when TV was great. Now there is Facebook trying to make every moment a water cooler moment. But it doesn’t. The noise to value ratio is far far too low to retain attention. And why didn’t the applications retain interest? Because they lack depth of affordance due to the paltry information that all users supply about themselves. FB came out of closed beta status far too early to ensure longevity.

Media, episodes, any motion graphics need not be series based now that TV has lost a temporal audience. Timeshifting has broken the habit of watching without intent. Media producers have lost the confidence to make a point; instead aesthetics (post production) is the cliff hanger than destroys the reason for a narrative.

Allegory fell out of art when the minimalists explored formalism; audiences, mass audiences, still stare at Carl Andres ‘Equivalent VIII‘ with horror, in so much that they fail to realise that meaning is something that has been so tightly spun as a moral.

Equally, audiences appreciation of mastery, comes of concern to any media producer. From film to software, what has come of the mastery of manufacturing?

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I watched American Gangster the other evening – a production of the highest values as one would expect from Ridley Scott, but the story? Based upon the ‘true strory’ of Frank Lucas, we follow 2 narratives obviously needing to collide. The tale of the honest, but domestically troubled detective and the tale of Lucas, his rise in wealth, capture and ultimately grass on every bent copper in the NYC drugs divisions.

Both come out heroes and the moral vanishes into a plume of heroin smoke.

The first weekend’s box office takings were around $46m. Lucas was reported making $1m a day from ‘Blue Magic’ back in 1970. The profits from moral-less activities go undetected when the lure of aesthetics is promised but without the gloss an audience demand meaning.

Why is this so?

I think it’s because we don’t know the ‘form of truth’, because the values of truth are always migrating away from experience. No one can handle the truth because we want the truth to belong to a notion of ‘Other‘, located across the way in a greener field.

Religion has used the notion of truth to gain a following; centering belief structures within folk allegories. Unfortunately, this power has been duplicated in mass communications. Truth and Sex are equivalents when stripped of any aesthetics – and so our psychological drugs need dressing to bring acceptability to our morals.

Like ‘Blue Magic’, we rate purity higher than a hybrid cocktail. Just like in the movie, Lucas bitches about one of his dealers cutting his ‘pure’ brand with impurities, comparing it to Trademark infringement. You can catch part of the scene at the end of Jay-Z’s inspired track..

You may have spotted the Hirst spin painting behind da man. It’s of no surprise – Hirst’s life’s work celebrates this connection between man’s beliefs and ultimate reality. His aestheticisation of aesthetics, making the palatable digestible; when parodied, it becomes a numbing truth.

I still cant find the answer to why the gloss of aesthetics is so needed; why do we as creatures of such diverse communications require stimulants? As creatures of activity, they make even less sense. Perhaps we cant consume, use or value without pedagogical fears. What could be worse than that?

Most Contagious Joneses

January 3, 2008

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Industry reviews of the Joneses project for Ford of Europe, on the whole, were a bit rubbish, especially the ‘experts’ at NMA. They made me reminded me how lazy the press can be (“awwwwwww, we want a press release weeks in advance and be the first to know.” “What’s a Wiki? Does it have banner adverts?” “So, like, it’s a TV show?” “Twitter, wassat?” “Nah, I don’t think our readers would be interested in the Creative Commons thingy. No one understands media rights, right?”). Sigh.

It was rare to read intelligent responses from people who were aware of the changes in media production and commissioning. Bloggers were the most fun, check out the Technorati Blog reactions or my del.licio.us collection.

When Contagious called to do an interview, they took their time to try and understand what I was playing with and it showed in their write up. The creative industries need producers like this. The industry needs clients like the ones I have a Ford of Europe. Most of all, the industries need to talk to the production communities, such as BabyCow, if invention is going to happen in ‘Branded Utility Entertainment’.

They’ve just launched the ‘best of 2007′ and I chuffed to see Where are the Joneses? get a decent mention alongside comparable projects: KateModern from Bebo, HoneyShed by the most excellent Droga5, GlamourReel Movies (notably cutting out the role of the Ad Agency) and QuarterLife – the later I’m keeping my eye on, especially with the WGA still on strike. Here’s what they said.

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You can download their 2007 round up, Most Contagious, here. Do it. It was a fascinating year.

Art is code. So when Nick compiled a list of his top 10 programmers, mainly based around game deveopment, he raised the issue about why great coders are aspiring.

For me, a good coder is like an artists who aspires towards a career in art. The paycheck for ‘production’ becomes their foundation. They shift cliched objects around a virtual space, solving problems based on to them – may they be client change requests, a project managers fuckwit shortcut to deliver or another lazy attempt to entertain the user.

For me, Ward Cunningham, is possible one of the most valuable coding minds we have seen. Ward infamously invented the Wiki model back in 1995 through a need to be self organised but (being lazy) without wishing to do the heavy lifting himself – instead he ‘saw’ the ability of a community to do they organising – aka Crowdsourcing.

This pulls him in-line with Paul Graham, author of Hackers and Painters.

Ward, like Paul, are artists who play with Language. Like, my hero, Lawrence Weiner. Here we are at the opening of his first Retrospective: As Far as the Eye Can See at the Whitney in November this year.

Lawrence’s ‘art’ defined the opening of conceptual art. Alongside Daniel Buren, they helped creativity manifest itself as the play within language; a play that sought to overcome the burden of meaning – eroding time into an object, usable to dissolve language’s grasp of context.

Here’s a nice statement from Lawrence, that I swiped from http://www.personalstructures.org, here.

When we speak of time, especially since so much art since, I can almost say, since Mondrian, is involved with the passage of time – not the reflection of time, but the passage of time, reflections of times or nostalgia at present. And that’s all we have in our lives. Time is relative to expectations, and it’s based upon the real-time needs to fulfill those expectations. We have no other means of judging the value of time. Essentially, to be really vulgar, it can’t be about lifetime, it can’t be about lifespan. It’s the same problem that all artists have. We all make movies, and yet, a movie is the great imposition on another human being, because it asks them to give up their real time. Your real time is making a movie. I don’t know if their real time is watching a movie, because it’s an imposition of time.

Necessity may have been the mother of invention for many, but the harsh reality is that it is idle meddling that attempts to make a problem out of nothing which leads to invention, understanding and ultimately language regression.

This meddling leaves seeds of curiosity for us all to pick over, accidental hybrid, trade and profit from. Stuff is built not by design, but by constructing problems that arrest us.

Haacke is for me, is the artist that has taken the operations of ‘conceptual art’ and successfully hacked the MarComms businesses, politically and aesthetically. His installation at Der Bevoelkerung stands testament to this. (If someone knows an English transaltion to this project online – please let me know.)

This is why I think the consensus of architecture is flawed. Design-to-build removes the participation of creation that is essential to the constructs future affordances. Imperial casts of iconic skyline buildings shadow the genius of ‘squatting‘.

The best programmers, like artists, seek to unlearn. That’s how they build inventions. Innovation is something we can live without, it has no use value. Only the doing of thinking constructs. The Thinking of Doing collapses the use value.

Why I’m still in awe of Ward Cunningham, well, he’s still playing. Last year, the Graffiti Research Lab drop kicked in the LED Throwie. Ward has hacked this concept with the Talkie Throwie. By programming the LED with Morse Messages, the Throwies now talk. In turn, the race is on to build video recognition applications that LISTEN to the messages.

Forget HD TV, forget AI, forget meaning. Let objects ‘talk, listen and build.’ They ‘mean’ nothing to each other, yet inspire us to react, redo and rediscover. Language is a stepping stone, not a destination. Have a look at “Les Deux Plateaux” by Buren, for example.

Working for a design company, my comments about using design to find the problem are usually met with a sharp in take of breath, at best. Designers, on the whole, have a fixation with makig stuff look and act great, nah, brilliant-fantastic-charming-clear.

BUT, we live in a world where design has to be used to enclose the audience, to help them find a space to occupy, NOT try to satisfy them with aesthetics du jour.

Apple, a design company that uses technology well, is possibly the biggest culprit in closing down progression in the use of aesthetics. Sure the products have charm, I picked up an iTouch recently – it’s a genius product, but it doesn’t need the Appleness for it do it’s job. If anything Aqua and Web2.0 screen furniture are failed languages, they’ve prevented a evolution where Useful (User) Experiences should have diversified and spawned languages; instead we are left with cliches. Interface design should not suffer the same inadequacies of architecture that induce the Stenna chairlift need.

Ben and Karsten are the smart practioners of design. Ben’s Hackable Aesthetics for Interesting2007 are about reuse values within existing cultures as a platform for innovation.

Whilst Karsten is playing between software (Processing) and hardware (Arduino). As a designer, the tool set is never essential, it’s the consideration is expanded when your tools have a broad affordance.

But for both to operate like this, the Ingredients of Data, have to be understood. Artists have always understood their material, from marble (Michangelo) to language (Weiner); today, in the realm of Being Digital, understanding how data is constructed has to be the basis to any designer/artist/creative.

It may seem dull, but understanding how a carrot grows is essential to a farmer. Understanding how Photoshop works is not necessary to use it, but to get the best from the system-as-application, knowing more about the under lying code is more important than understanding complementary colours. That’s why Rob’s Minara is such a smart way to think about the relationship between design and software.

But non of this is of any value unless you wrap in the role of the user/audience/participator. The viewer has a role in a designers work – they are the interpreter – regardless of what ‘message’ you are trying to send. The User centricity of User Experience, covered in length by Armano, has resulted in some pretty lame executions – any web2.0 application that claims to do one thing well, has sucked in 37signals ‘Getting Real’ manifesto. The reality is that no one wants a singular experience, like Photoshop or Illustrator. The ‘I Want to Be Alone’ singualrity of the creative is way past being useful – like Twitter, designers must have Peer Appreciation. By this I mean that conversation between likeminded, non-likeminded and the resulting audience must be in the pre-production, production and the execution.

As soon as designers can get out of the Ivory Tower and get with the participation that has made their technology based tools possible, then we might just get an industry that is more interested in find the real problems for creativity- and I think it’s based in Error Handling.

Ward Cunningham’s thinking evolved Pattern Language.

A pattern language is a structured method of describing good design practices within a field of expertise. It is characterized by

  1. Noticing and naming the common problems in a field of interest,
  2. Describing the key characteristics of effective solutions for meeting some stated goal,
  3. Helping the designer move from problem to problem in a logical way, and
  4. Allowing for many different paths through the design process.

Think about his Throwie Talkies, think about the mentality of design that encourages Stateless Communications, and then remember the Gorilla Advert. Think how utility can become fun – fun as in learning – education through creation.

None of these modal approaches to design were borne out of necessity – they were evolutions from seeds of boredom. Programmers, like artists, like some designers, hate the thought and practice of spending their time producing the mundane. If they don’t mind – you should question the people on your team – and juniors who do the ‘grunt’ work should consider getting the hell out of there.

Laziness is the vision of the apathetic creative upon the inventions that are being played out by the beleaguered designer.

Architecting, designing, creating, erm, even planning, needs to be used to find problems, not solve them. In return the final product will be as interesting to the audience as it was to you.

I think I’m trying to nudge over Johnny’s Branded Utility concept, as Russell notes, It’s just Utility, and that’s agreeable a bit dull. Schutz and Webb are having a good play around with this too. But for me, as soon as the object-as-utility is defined by it’s use, it’s polydimensionality collapses and so does it’s longevity. Equally, the age old question ofwhat is ‘Brand Experience’, which for me is a simulation of a Brand, and really needs to step up to accountable transactions to be allowed to have the word Brand anywhere near any notion of Experience.

And it’s a bit too easy to point at Twitter and state it’s the way forward. It does have a superb mentality towards poly-dimensionality, but what makes it so? Evan and Biz knew, after Blogger, that the audiences interests were the operating system, and the technology just has to do the heavy lifting between them. It’s the Solow rule of ecconomics. What needs to be examined is the process of design for problem excalvation that’s benificial to the participants.

So, I want to recap on what I think the ‘user pathway’ translates to as a design, production and delivery process.

Previously, I explained that I see a user experience in 4 stages:-

1. Inspiration: Attract the User
2. Aspiration: Get the user to ask what they want
3. Insight: Deliever the request
4. Acquisition: Participate in a trade for the request

Mapping on some of the ideas above, I think the process for the ‘producers’ looks like this:-

1. Inspiration : Peer Appreciation
2. Aspiration: Hackable Aesthetics
3. Insight: Ingredients of Data
4. Acquistion: Useful Experiences

I’m still thinking this through; it’s being written on the wiki, so when I have a better idea about all this, I’ll update in another post.

If I can get this right, I think it’s the key to defining a model for Accountable Transactions for Engagement.

Flippin’ Girls

September 24, 2007

In the words of Paris Hilton: “This is hot.”

New York based 3iying, who I wrote about last year, has unleashed over 150 videos of girls critiquing adverts. And they are addictive to watch. This is not girls bitchin’, but smart ladies explaining why sales media is making them depressed – this is what they call a ‘Flip'; they are explaining what they want. And if the industry cant make what they want – they will come and help you do it.

How smart is this? Very. No CMO, Creative Director, Head of Planning/Consumer Insights/Media Planning can afford to ignore these videos. These are not focus groups findings, this is personal, direct, honest pleas from the people formally known as consumers. And before your say “Erm, isn’t this just Girl Power?” go and watch the videos. All of them. These are ‘Social Functions as Media Commerce’ – not a padded Lyrica stage show.

The girls have a new site up and running too: www.3iying.tv

There are the videos, Flickr stream of the girls with their insights – yes insights – not comments. And there is even a Youtube group for other girls to record ‘n’ upload their ‘Flips’. MySpace is covered. I expect the Facebook group to follow…

I’ve been talking to 3iying founder, Heidi Dangelmaier, since I first wrote about 3iying – I’ve seen how the 3iying ideology has formed over the past 18 months, met some of the girls, see previews of these videos and talked at length about the voice of ‘girl’. This has been about using design to find the problems, not create solutions. This work has been born from conversations not planning. This work is not a prescription but social surgery. This work is about making media work.

Not only is there the passion and belief that there is something fundamentally important in this work – raising an awareness of what makes the marketing the crass media creation that dominates mainstream culture – 3iying is enabling the audience to craft their commentary about why so much ‘product media’ leaves us all so vacuous – this makes this agency CULTURALLY RELEVANT.

3iying is not another PR/Marketing/Design agency – it’s an opportunity to make life better – for everyone.

Just like Anamoly and Antidote, 3iying is the ‘agency’ model that is beginning to phoenix – they’re brave, independent and considerate. But most importantly – they are doin’ it. Now.

The Joneses ‘family’ is growing within it’s audience.

Free Gift Wrapping Paper

August 5, 2007

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Rob and Crosbie have been kicking off about the idea and use of Gift Economy in the comments section here – which has led to the idea of some lovely GPLv3 wrapping paper, which I’d love to hand over under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence – but then I realised it’s probably just easier to make some Creative Commons wrapping paper, which is tempting to licence under GPLv3, well, the source file. But you can get the logos yourself and a copy of Gimp and you’ll be done in 5minutes anyway.

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If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here’s a video of Richard Stallman explaining the GPLv3

And as I’m at it, here’s a classy sheet of GNU gift wrap.

Remember, free software is for life, not religious ceremonies, like Festivus .

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Bloody hell, there really is a company that makes Festivus Poles. Viva free culture!

Seriously – watch this. And again if you’ve no idea what I’m on about watch this video.

Here’s the best of Festivus. Enjoy

Where are the Joneses?

June 17, 2007

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Quietly on Thursday the first audience participation sitcom to use an open licence went live. It’s called “Where are the Joneses?

The synopsis is that Dawn (left) has found out that she is the child of sperm donor and she now has the list of the other 27 siblings who are scattered across Europe. After contacting her new found brother Ian (Right) they begin the search with Jonti, the director filming their journey.

The basis to the project is that it’s a marketing experiment for the Ford Motor Company. Together we have been developing the project for 6 months. Seeing this live is undoubtedly my proudest moment as it’s the form of communication that I left Channel 4 TV to pursue.

The experiment is to embrace the value of networks by using an architecture of audience participation to generate semantic broadcasting. As the actors and their roving production team of 3 explore Europe, they will be posting approx 5 minutes of video daily along with various tweets, image and text posts.

To do this several significant changes to the traditional method of media manufacturing had to occur. First, the use licence had to be correct so that any participation could be freely shared with collaborating communities – so we applied Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0. (For those who follow the Creative Commons project, I bet you’re a little surprised to find Ford being the first global brand to use the licence on a commercial media project. Personally, I’m delighted.)

Second, the project had to be built upon existing web(2.0) services so that we could take the project to an audience rather than drag people into the project. Youtube is being used for video delivery, Flickr for photos, WordPress for the Blog (where the comedy is ‘played out’) and wikidot (where the audience can collaborate with each other, the actors and their production team). Dapper, Yahoo!Pipes, Facebook, various Google Apps, Twitter etc etc are also used to manage data flow and generate material for the actors to work from. If you like, it’s a UGC authentic media comedy based upon RSS feeds generating free open media.

Such factors begins to blur the answer to ‘what is content?’ We invited BabyCow to work with us on this because of their ability to produce the highest quality comedy and evolve characters. Their team is headed up by Henry Normal (Steve Coogan’s writer and business partner) and Ali MacPhail (Who was the exec producer on productions such as Nighty Night and The Mighty Boosh). They have helped significantly in demonstrating that media can be produced for both entertainment and marketing, outside the normal broadcasting channels and platforms.

By working with a classic TV production company to create marketing that is based upon the audiences input is the opportunity to give the audience the entertainment they ask for. We are encouraging the audience to take part in the project in any way they wish to. Write scripts, design characters, recommend locations across Europe and if you want to, you can be in the production as a character – you may wish to become a Jones yourself. You can also take the media and ideas and use them for you own benifit.

I will post more about this remarkable project over the next few week as we watch it mutate. For now, I really want to praise my employer Imagination and the inhouse team for getting their head around this production, Rob Myers for the original conversation back in Nov 2005 and the continuous remarkable insights into new forms of media production, Loca Records for the music (licenced under BY-SA too) and of course Claire and Richard from Ford of Europe who championed The Joneses from day zero. In my book they are currently the most pioneering clients in marketing today.

I’ll leave you with the first episode of the project. (Don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed off the blog). I hope you enjoy the forthcoming 12 weeks of this project – lets see if it goes further than that.

Disney Parody explanation of Copyright Law and Fair Use

Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use

Fair Use has it’s uses if you can justify the use; but as demonstrated above in the two videos, does it really bring value to a new work in sampled form? Both videos are humorous, but hard to follow.

Instead synthesis, using the samples as the base material for the production, or better the characters, assets and storylines (bearing in mind Disney has enjoyed borrowing Jungle book from the public domain only to protected the story through it’s own ‘classic’ rendering.) can open the usability of the original production.

Disney pumps dollars into promoting its productions knowing ‘roughly’ the longtail business returns on every frame and tune of the production. It employs thousands of people who design, produce and market the production; an industry is built upon the manufacturing of a creative network of people communicating a singular vision of Disneyness.

Such orchestration is the fine tuning of a commercial network, held together by licencing. Licences here are acting like an API – clear defined parameters of retrieval and use. Fair Use is a hack of the legal API, the amount, context and re-usable-ness is never defined. It’s a gamble call – a dirty grab at a well defined API.

As much as the focus and lamenting over copyright continues, and Creative Commons tries to bridge a peace deal with cc-by-sa, I see it in media technologists barking over formats and content connectivity, especially here in a debate concerning Microformats and the Semantic Web.

For me this fundamentally not understanding that ‘media’ is made for different reasons though may look the same. Indeed, the message may be the same. From political media to entertainment media, both have ingrained messages that seek to seduce the audience into, at worst, empathising, at best, buying the T-shirt.

When the Medium is Not the Message is to look at the purpose of the production process – the methodology of manufacturing:-

Publishers look to produce media for paid consumption. Marketing looks to produce media for voluntary engagement.

Both systems are ‘protected’ by the deeds of copyright. User Generated Media Authentic Media has been taken advantage of by both sides of commercial media producers; from YouTube as the video publishing arm of Google (admittedly having the lowest barrier to entry in the world) to Verizon Action Hero Movie Maker. Yet protection offers little in the way of commercial sense. Protection offers only the API to commerce use through uninspiring obvious reuse, such as distribution on portable media within territory markets (e.g. BluRay version in Egypt)

damianhirst_forgodssake.jpgThere is no fairy tale ending to this methodology of manufacturing; there is no downstream use with copyright acting like an API. There is no end in a closed network. And there’s no end in an open network.

Thinking that an open network of free media use is the holy grail of an enriching cultural existence, this is not an end in itself. To consider this as a destination (just as TV does being a non dialogue (Image) based technology), is to think incorrectly of the ambitions of message based media.

Message based media needs manipulation, it needs the Chinese whispers, it needs to find conduits. But at what speed does it need? What time does it require? Copyright, as recommended by Disney is up to 70 years after the death of the author. Reducing or decreasing it has no effect on the nature of the commercial APIness.

From Twitter to the LongNow (and Russel’s Dawdlr project) time is being used to leverage usage. I wrote about the use of time before in regards to Flickr patents and Interestingness, but with an assumption that the network effect sustains ubiquity. The Longtail theory would purport it does. But consider the value of the statelessness and fragility of the networks. A network thrives on collapses, allowing connections to be created through the result of misdemeanour (a collapse for example). Could media get trapped, moated from an audience is network collapses became more prevalent, and how does this effect the value of the media.

Service denials and caching has put stop to much of this commercial panic; but don’t these inflate the value of the persistant media suppliers? Sustainability and stability afford good consumer experience but is it helping create a good ecology of creativity?

Conflict has been a concernable source of innovations and product development, normally at the cost of short term humanity. Death has been a constant source of activation for achievement. Life has been a constant source of battle for designing solutions that invent cultural connectivity.

As social networks define themselves as platforms the hum of a media operating system becomes louder. The social grid is not a wired solution as the software developers are keen to believe. Consider the network a bag of nerves; an emotional net that individuals define their transmission and reception rules. ‘The Individuals Guide to the Emotiverse’ [sic] is the opportunity to build Emotional Media Interfaces (Sorry, EMI). Using the faux fragility of the server architectures to cache responses, media production can be used as a facilitator of emotional engagement.

By the user being the key instigator, the rights model is open to decision by the audience, not so much the facilitator. The user, as centric, is the first object in the downstream model of engagement ecology. Messages from are attractive to manufactures who have the scope to devise methodologies suitable to the request. The API in this case is dynamic on the side of the service provider, thus maintaining the love for asymmetrical communications.

If you go down to the woods today,
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today,
You’d better go in disguise.

For ev’ry bear that ever there was,
Will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic.

Ev’ry Teddy Bear who’s been good,
Is sure of a treat today.
There’s lots of marvellous things to eat,
And wonderful games to play

Beneath the trees where nobody sees,
They’ll hide and seek as long as they please
‘Cause that’s the way the Teddy Bears have their picnic

(The Teddy Bears Picnic 1907, John W. Bratton)

Fair Use communicates that copyright has justifications, and as the methodology of the vast majority of productions supports the millions who make stuff, it wont vanish without systematic changes to lives outside the capitalist economy that we use to pay for substance, stability and now sustainability. Copyright will be one of the last things to go, not the first in a networked era of media communications.

As Damian’s mother said to him: “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?”

“That’s when you stop laughing,” Hirst says. “You might have created something that people might die because of. I guess I felt like Oppenheimer or something. What have I done? Because it’s going to need high security all its life.”

[via]

myspace = ghetto
facebook = mall (shopping centre)
blogs = suburbia
facebook = bikesheds
digg = bus stop
google = neighbours fence
twitter = down the pub
linkedin = clubhouse
delicious = Garden allotment
secondlife = Anywhere, whilst drunk
WoW = Scifi Rugby
youtube = hairdressers
Bebo = village hall on a friday night
skype = telephone
AIM = water cooler

internet = salad bar

Really, where is disruption in our lives with online services? Where is the innovation? Where is the remarkable?

That’s the problem with pluralism and convergence. Exponential shifts are harder to see when network values modulate each other, defining each others identity.

As code and interaction increase each others ubiquity, you begin to develop perceptions of engagement; this maybe physical, mental or social.

As software negotiates with interaction, metaphor language assists in lowering access to entry. Inversely, how do social normals inform software development? This constant invariance, the basis to asymmetrical communications, is under the command of user experience and user interface ‘architects’. Both design by committee and design by author has been replaced by design by beta. But, the role of mediator (nee editor) holds the responsibility of social Velcro.

If we’re encouraged to rewire the web, we will fall prey to simulacra. Optimising for happiness is not a technology solution, nor is it editorial. Working with the flaws in communication, engagement and interaction makes life richer.

So consider changing some of your habits and watch how the software adapts.

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